The 2014 Strong Island Calendar is now in stock and available to order from our online store HERE for only £10 (+ £1.50 p&p if required) with £2 of each sale going to the Alzheimer’s Society and the Feel Yourself Campaign.
Those who are looking to pick up from Strong Island HQ (at the back of Head Hairdressers, 53 Albert Road) are able to do this from today. I will be down there myself sorting through postal orders, all of which should be out within the next 48 hours. Please check HERE for opening times.
Calendars are also now available from Southsea Gallery and in Lou Lou’s on Marmion Road.
We have been overwhelmed by the number of orders that have come in! Please don’t wait too long to place your order! At the rate they are selling we expect to sell out by Christmas.
A huge, huge thank you to everyone who submitted incredible photography for this year. We were stoked with the enthusiasm for the calendar and all the images sent in really captured some unique sights of this city throughout 2013.
You can see a selection of the images from our 2013 and 2014 Calendars in an exhibition in the Wine Vaults in the snug bar (right hand side). This event is in collaboration with Southsea Gallery.
We’re really excited to say Strong Island (Paul & Tris) will be DJing at The Belle Isle with the mighty Civilisation of the Rough crew this New Year’s Eve. Tickets are only £5 in advance from the bar at the Belle and £10 on the day plus you get a free cocktail on entry. Going to be good!
In the last five years at Strong Island we have been involved in a number of projects which success is owed to our readers and their involvement. The calendar is in it’s second year and after seeing the final product I can tell you that you are in for a treat. I knew it would be difficult to surpass what we brought to you last year but I think we might have managed to do just that.
In partnership with Southsea Gallery we would like to invite you all to our launch and Exhibition on Thursday 14th November at the Wine Vaults, Albert Road.
The exhibition will feature images used in our 2013 and 2014 Calendars.
You can see the photographs being included on our Facebook page HERE. You can add yourself to the Facebook event HERE.
Two pounds from each calendar sale is going to support Alzheimer’s Society and the Feel Yourself Campaign. The calendars themselves will be available from the Strong Island shop to pre order next week with delivery expected late November.
Last Saturday saw the closing event of BookFest 2013 – CSI Portsmouth. In its fourth year, this sell-out event brings a panel of crime authors and crime-fighting professionals together for a day of lively discussion and debate on crime fact versus crime fiction.
CSI Portsmouth is the brainchild of local crime novelist Pauline Rowson, whose novels are set in Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight, and follow the investigations of DI Andy Horton. She organised the first CSI Portsmouth in 2010, and since then the event has attracted crowds from around Hampshire and beyond.
This year’s event, supported by Hayling Island Bookshop and Portsmouth City Council Library Service, was held in the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The day kicked off with a welcome from Pauline followed by a session with the morning’s panel. Crime author Kerry Wilkinson was joined by forensic toxicologist Dr Alex Allan and Hampshire Police drugs expert Mick Ellis. The discussion was peppered with the blunt humour of Ellis, who named Life on Mars as his favourite crime show on TV, and when asked what he does to relax, simply answered: “I drink beer.” This was followed by a chance for the audience to ask the panel questions.
After book signings and lunch, Pauline introduced the afternoon panel, made up of crime novelists Natasha Cooper and Sharon Bolton, Sergeant Tony Birr of the Hampshire Police Marine Unit and Brian Chappell, senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and former DCI New Scotland Yard. The discussions between the afternoon panel were even more lively and interesting, with the two writers pitching in with questions for the crime experts.
Both authors also gave interesting insights into their thoughts on the role of the crime novel in society, why they became a writer, and whether plot or character comes first when writing a crime novel.
For Bolton, the plot comes first: “It’s a constant battle of wits between me and the reader.” At what stage will they find out who the killer is?
She said: “I have a theory… characters can write themselves. They form themselves in the way they react to each other, the way they react to events.”
When asked why she made the move from historical romance to crime novels, Cooper said: “I found myself wondering, what happens after ‘Reader, I married him’, and that’s crime.” She spoke of the underlying theme present in all her books: “ Why, as human beings, do we do things to make each other miserable? I think at some level we all have this destructive urge.”
Also present at the event were South Downs College, whose forensic science students had set up a mock crime scene, complete with the body of ‘Victor’ the victim. The University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies had a delightful display of maggots and flies, amongst other things (to be viewed after lunch, not before), and the Hampshire Police Fingerprint Bureau Team offered visitors the chance to take away a keyring of their own thumbprint.
The day concluded with a round of thanks for the guests and sponsors, and a further chance to mingle and chat with the experts. The next CSI Portsmouth is lined up for Saturday 8 November 2014 – a definite date for the diary!
Images courtesy of Pauline Rowson
The morning panel, L-R Pauline Rowson, Kerry Wilkinson, Dr Alex Allan and Mick Ellis
The audience listens to the afternoon panel, L-R Natasha Cooper, Sharon Bolton, Sergeant Tony Birr and Brian Chappell
Pauline Rowson with Sam Day and Helen Gittins from South Downs College Forensic Science Department and ‘Victor’ the body
The afternoon panel
Portsmouth BookFest is in full swing. If you haven’t yet made it to one of the events on offer, take a look at the BookFest website to see what literary treats are still in store.
Ahead of this evening’s ‘Day of the Dead’, we caught up with William Sutton, one of the authors taking part in this year’s festivities. We asked him about tonight’s event, an evening of spooky tales organised by Portsmouth Writer’s Hub, what literary festivals like BookFest do for writers and the local community, and how it feels to be taking part this year as a published author.
Why did the organisers choose to do a ‘Day of the Dead’? It sounds a bit grim!
Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a huge festival especially in Mexico which is a counterpart of Hallowe’en, and it’s anything but grim, celebrated with feasting, skeleton models, amazing food. We’ve adopted the title to bridge all aspects of death, from spooky to gory to elegiac.
What can those attending the event expect from the evening?
Expect the gut-wrenching, the terrifying, the mind-blowing, the fantastic.
Last year’s BookFest featured a brilliant evening in the atmospheric Square Tower about Dickens and Conan Doyle, with a ghostly flavour. We wanted to unleash the imaginations of our own brilliant writers. Among our writers are Diana Bretherick (appearing on ITV3’s Crime Thriller Book Club and nominated for Specsavers Crime Awards); award-winning short story writers, Lynne Blackwood, Jack Hughes and James Bicheno; and Matt Wingett, whose work with The Three Belles scored a sell-out hit at the New Theatre Royal.
What are the benefits of an event like this to the local writers taking part?
It’s fun. Writing is a lonely game. Writing and performing for a specific event is a welcome challenge. This is a way for wonderful authors, including published novelists and award-winning short story writers, to entertain local readers, to connect with each other and to push our writing skills in new directions.
I understand you are a guest author at the Firestation Bookswap tomorrow and have attended a Bookswap as an audience member in the past. Is this event a particular favourite, and why?
I just love the Firestation Bookswap, with its quirky set-up and enthused audience. Ticket free if you bake a cake? Brilliant. Unorthodox audience questions in a hat, eg “If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?” Warm, witty hosts Scott Pack and Marie Phillips; intelligent guests like historical crime author Lloyd Shepherd.
And you bring an old book to swap for a new one. But which book? The first year I attended, I grabbed Five Latin Love Poets (in Latin). When I announced it, Scott thought I had no chance of swapping it, only to find that not one, not two, but five members of the audience were keen to swap their cherished book for it.
I like the bookswap format so much that I helped run a charity book day for the Ben Williams Trust in March, and many of Day of the Dead writers came along to support and perform.
How does it feel making the step from audience member to published author at events and festivals like BookFest?
When I moved to Southsea, I heard about BookFest. I wanted to get involved, but it’s hard when you’re unknown.
A marvellous camaraderie has sprung up through Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, former creative writing students and other writers’ groups. Since doing a workshop with ReAuthoring (who ran the You, Me & Everyone in Portsmout), we’ve performed in Portsmouth Libraries, the Square Tower, South Harting School, the Alver Arts Festival in Gosport and Victorious at the Dockyard. Fantastic fun.
It’s a diverse group of writers: poets, short story writers, young adult novelists and crime writers. What binds us together is a commitment to writing.
Do you think BookFest is an important feature in the Portsmouth calendar, and what does it do for the city and local community?
BookFest is an important event for a city like Portsmouth. Publicity often centres on illiteracy, rather than noting our history as a home of great literature, from Dickens, Wells, Kipling and Doyle to Neil Gaiman.
I don’t think we’re yet reaching all the city’s readers. In its fourth year, BookFest’s funding is constantly threatened. Yet the Guildhall was full for Neil Gaiman’s event. Wouldn’t many of these readers enjoy other events? It takes time to get the word out. Information is key: when people see the creative energy in the city, it fuels further creativity.
It’s also important to support our local bookshops. Sure, you can get things online, but there’s such joy to browsing in a real bookshop, asking a bookseller for advice, discovering new gems.
How do you feel these literary events and festivals support new writers?
I sat at the Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago, wishing I was in it. Two years later, I was. And the way I got published was by having a chance to attend and read in book events.
Writers need to talk. We can learn so much by writing for an audience; and it’s thrilling for an audience to find new exciting voices, and to follow them moving towards success. Thanks to Bookfest for hosting us, and to websites like yours for helping spread the word.
If you headed to Guildhall Square over the weekend you may have noticed the Guildhall looking rather more illuminated than normal. Friday and Saturday evening saw the culmination of You, Me & Everyone in Portsmouth, a project led by the creative folk at ReAuthoring, which asked local people to submit their stories and memories of Portsmouth. Over 1,000 stories were gathered, including two from author Neil Gaiman, who grew up in Southsea.
We asked the producers of the project, Samantha Holdsworth and Greg Klerkx, where the idea came from and just what it involved.
How did the idea for the project come about?
SAM: The main rationale for ReAuthoring is finding new and exciting ways for writers to share their work with the public and in the past we have developed work with writers that has been shared through sound installations, performances, site-specific work, in festivals, parks and even on a 40-metre ship.
We are used to working in unconventional ways, however, for You, Me & Everyone in Portsmouth we really wanted to explore scale. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we engage as many people as possible in the creative process and the final event?’. We really wanted to push our own understanding and knowledge of the work we create and so the initial idea was born. We then thought who would be crazy enough to help us do this… and then we remember the brilliant workshop we ran in Portsmouth…
GREG: ReAuthoring ran a workshop with some local writers in 2012, and everyone liked it so much – including us – that we immediately thought about doing something bigger. We loved the Guildhall and felt that it would be a great canvas to tell the stories of people in the community… you know, their building, their stories. Fortunately, both Arts Council England and Portsmouth Council agreed. This wouldn’t have been possible without their core funding, so all credit and thanks to them for supporting it.
To your knowledge, have there been any other projects of this kind in the past?
GREG: As far as we know, You, Me & Everyone in Portsmouth is the largest crowd-sourced community story project ever undertaken, certainly in the UK and possibly anywhere. We did a web search and also queried Arts Council England, and couldn’t find anything to contradict this. In the end, we gathered more than 1,100 stories in one form or another.
In terms of architectural projection mapping – the method we used to light up the Guildhall – there have been a few projections that show poetry and stories, but none that have focused on stories told by everyday people. That’s unique. Also, most projection mapping tends to be on very flat, featureless buildings. It’s easier to do, like a standard projection screen. The Guildhall is anything but featureless, so it was a real challenge for our projection team to make it work. They did an amazing job.
SAM: For us, You, Me & Everyone represents an amazing collaboration between the people of Portsmouth, digital art and writers sharing their craft. As Greg mentions, we are not aware of any other project that shares the same scale and reach as this.
Another layer of complexity which we are very proud of is the ‘liveness’ of the event. Our digital artist, Anthony Head, could have created the final projection on his computer and projected this onto the Guildhall and it would have been the same each night, however, we thought creating a live event would be much more interesting.
With this in mind, Anthony, created different animations that were controlled from the projection booth live on the night. It was up to him when he wanted to phase different stories and effects in and out. This meant each night a new and unique artwork was created. This isn’t a new idea but combine it with the literary component of the project, the extensive outreach activities we developed and the strong social media focus and you have a very rich and intricate process unlike any I know of.
What do you feel are the benefits of involving the local community in creative projects of this nature?
GREG: ‘Literature’ can be a very loaded word for many people, even off-putting. But literature is about stories, and stories come from the people, places and situations that are all around us. We wanted people from all walks of life in Portsmouth to feel this for themselves; to understand that stuff of their lives, and the stuff of the lives around them, are what makes up the stuff of literature. By then splashing these stories onto one of the city’s most iconic buildings, we hoped this would be a way of saying, ‘This place, this time… it’s yours’. We hope we succeeded.
SAM: People connect with other people through stories. Our project was a way of promoting this idea and inviting each and every participant to have their voices shared and celebrated. We didn’t want to create something that was ‘done’ to the people of Portsmouth or that they had no control over or say in how it was made. We wanted to create something WITH the community that participants could feel ownership over. We hope people feel the project is as much theirs as it is ours, after all it is their voices, stories, hopes and fears that have helped to create the spectacular final event.
With all the stories to gather and the task of projecting the final work on the Guildhall, this must have been a huge project. How many people were involved?
GREG: In total, 16 people worked full or part time on this project in various capacities, including four core writers, a three-person digital art and projection team, and three people involved in outreach and promotion. All of the writers were from the Portsmouth area and our outreach team worked through New Theatre Royal, which was a great partner on the project, as were the Portsmouth Cultural Trust, the Events Team at Portsmouth City Council, and Team Locals. We couldn’t have done the project without them.
Will the stories be available for members of the public to read after the event this evening?
GREG: Many of the original stories submitted are on the project Facebook page or website, and we are considering how best to make everything else available online. Stay tuned!
SAM: We have been overwhelmed by the quality of stories and how funny they are. It seems the people of Portsmouth have a brilliant sense of humour. I’d definitely recommend checking out these pages if you get a chance.
As it’s the people who really make a project like this work, and you are two of the people involved, it would be great to hear a little bit about your involvement and passion for writing and the arts.
GREG: Along with being a producer I’m an author and journalist, so writing is in my bones. For me there’s nothing more exciting than seeing someone really discover a story or a piece of writing. It’s like a whole new world materialises, even a new way of seeing. We started ReAuthoring to help both writers and audiences discover new ways to connect with that kind of magic, and this project is certainly the highlight of our work to date.
SAM: I have spent my career working with communities through arts based projects as a theatre maker, director and producer. I have been lucky enough to do this all over the world and can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been doing this for around 15 years and am still moved by the willingness and generosity of communities that share their histories, stories and soul with me. It’s an absolute privilege and not one I take for granted.